There is so much for us to think about now as parents. I have talked with my kids this weekend, ascertaining their level of understanding of the situation. My pre-school child has no idea what happened, so I have said nothing to him. My middle school child is more than aware of the situation, and we have spoken about it a bit, but she seems like she is thinking deeply and probably has to process it more. We have definitely limited the TV to watching benign things such as a few Christmas specials and the shows my little one likes on Nick Jr. and Disney Junior.
I cannot help but to keep thinking about those 20 lost children as I watch these shows with my children. No doubt these little ones watched these same shows, were excited about the impending holidays, had written their letters to Santa, and had visions of the toys and games that he would bring. Their parents must have wrapped gifts, decorated houses, and now they sit in the silence of mourning in homes that should have been brimming with festivity. How can this Christmas, and all the Christmases to come for that matter, ever be anything but a time to grieve?
I know that so much more will be said about this horrific story in the days and weeks to come. As someone who lost a family member on 9/11, I know how a story just doesn’t go away. The same thing will happen for these people who have lost loved ones. December 14 is their 9/11 now and every year forevermore. People used to say that you have to get over it in reference to 9/11, but as anyone who lost someone that day knows, there is no getting over it. The same will be true for the parents, friends, children, and spouses of those lost.
An even more daunting task awaits all of us tomorrow. Children came home from school on Friday in a normal state of mind. They will board school buses tomorrow differently. Those older ones will be thinking about what happened, wondering if their schools are safe, and waiting to hear something from their principals and teachers. There may be some children (perhaps many) who are afraid to go to school. We as parents must ground them in the notion that this was an aberration, something that happened that is isolated and far removed from their schools and lives; however, as we say this we parents also know the truth: that it can happen anywhere, as this incident so chillingly proves beyond a doubt.